March 8, 2022

Horácio Costa (Brazil) 1954

Horácio Costa (Brazil)

Born in São Paulo in 1954, Costa pursued his studies in Brazil and the United States. He earned a B.A. degree from the University of São Paulo in 1978 and an M.A. degree from New York University in 1983. He received a PhD from Yale University in 1994.
     For a long while Costa lived in Mexico City, where he was a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and lived as a companion of Mexican poet Manuel Ulacia. When the relationship broke up, he returned to São Paulo.

   Costa’s poetry evinces a high wit and a strong visual texture, along with his active concerns for the rights of homosexuals. Among his several book publications are
28 poemas 6 contos (1981), Satori (1989), O livro dos fracta (1990), The very short stories (1991), Los jardines y los poetas (a bilingual Spanish-Portuguese anthology, 1993), O meinino e o travesseiro (1994), and Quadragésimo (1998). In addition to extensive critical writhing, Costa has translated the poetry of authors such as Elizabeth Bishop and Octavio Paz into Portuguese.
     The poet's most recent book of criticism is Retratos do Brasil Homossexual (São Paulo, 2010).
     Costa and his husband divide their time between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.


28 poemas, 6 contos (São Paulo: José Gatti, 1981); Satori (São Paulo: Iluminuras, 1989); O livro des fracta (São Paulo: Iluminuras, 1990); Quadragésimo (São Paulo: Ateliê Editorial, 1998); Fracta: antologia poética. seleção de Haroldo de Campos (Perspectiva, 2004), (Fondo de Cultura Economica, 2009); Paulistanas / Homoeróticas (Lumme editor, 2007); Ravenalas (Selo Demônio Negro, 2008)Ciclópico olho (Selo Demônio Negro, 2011); Bernini: poemas 2008–2010 (Selo Demônio Negro, 2013); 11/12 onze duodécimos (Lumme editor, 2014); A hora e a vez de Candy Darling (Martelo, 2016)


Selected poems in Quadragésimo  (São Paulo: Ateliê Editorial, 1998); Selected poems in The PIP Anthology of WorldPoetry of the 20th Century, Volume 3: Nothing the Sun Could NotExplain—20 Contemporary Brazilian Poets (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1997; reprinted by Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2003)

Portrait of Don Luís Gôngora

vampire face, life-battered nose,
stiffness your immoderate pride,
the corners of your smile drawn down without irony,
I do not see your hands, they might be writing,
they might be manipulating syntax’s abacus,
I see you absorbed in seeking dormant treasures,
larvae shimmer on the white page,
and your sphinx eyes, now fixed, penetrate me
they imitate your fan-like ears, your full cloak,
a mass of velvet or wool, Director always
of a baroque hospital before the Grand Renfermement,
for whom do you pose? You sing of the Esgueva
of your contemporaries’ thought, the radical sigh
of Nature in deep heat, lacteal language, azure field,
and you value me, Acis without, Polyphemus within,
this is the world Don Luis, you are sitting for me,
distinguished pre Kafkian cockroach goes from ante
to anteroom, patiently expounds his emphatic elastic decorum,
this much you must put up with, Jekyll without,
so small within, because you are child and beyond
the canvas’ frame you speak s blacks do—it is at night
that banality becomes a pearl, and your baldness fills the sky,
the void yields, and a lullaby escapes your word.

                                                               México, 1984

(from Satori, 1989)

—Translated from the Portuguese by Martha Black Jordan

Natural History
Behind the taxidermist, there’s the straw
behind the rhinoceros, the savannah,
behind this writing only the night,
night which gallops to the fore.

The moon leaps from the butterfly’s wing,
the sun shines on the head of a pin,
a black sun thrums through these lines,
star now rising on the horizon.

The desiccated animal of syntax
furnishes the word, the frame and the label
of a collection deader than the dead.

In the natural history collection
the visiting reader pauses alongside
shining mammals and insects.

(from Quadragésimo, 1998)

—Translated from the Portuguese by Martha Black Jordan

“Portrait of Don Luís Gôngora” and “Natural History”

Translation copyright ©1997 by Martha Black Jordon, from The PIP Poetry of World Poetry of the 20th Century, Volume 3: Nothing the Sun Could Not Explain—20 Contemporary Brazilian Poets (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2003), Reprinted by permission of Green Integer.

For two other poems in English, go here:



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